Home is where the haunt is

A Circle in 12 Parts is a project by Jacob Whittaker which features guest artists chosen by zodiac sign. I was Jacob’s Cancerian guest for July.

These days I’m pretty sceptical about astrology, but, in my younger years, I enthusiastically learned and absorbed the traits of my star sign. I think, perhaps, the quasi-scientific nature of astrology satisfies a deep desire within us to see ourselves objectively reflected and to catch a glimpse of our ‘true’ self. Sometimes I wonder whether we are so taken with this mirror to our character that we accept the reflection as the real. We confuse the given traits of our star sign with our own, ’Well, I’m a Cancer so of course I’m a nurturing, slightly over sensitive home lover’.

As above, so below is the credo of astrology. My celestial companion is the moon and I’ve been looking for her reflection in the stuff of my every day.

The ‘typical’ Cancerian feature that seems to have chimed with me consistently throughout my life is a preoccupation with home, and the things of the home. I’m particularly interested in the unhomely and the haunted home, the disturbance of the unfamiliar becoming manifest within our most intimate environment; the way that small disruptions in atmosphere and perception can make the familiar suddenly uncomfortable and alien.

I decided to choose just one record from Jacob’s collection to build sound for the piece, Ghosts by Japan, a piece that cultural theorist Mark Fisher cites in the title of his book Ghosts of My Life: writings on depression, hauntology and lost futuresin which he describes its “…sense of enervated foreboding…”:

When the room is quiet, the daylight almost gone, it seems there’s something I should know….

Whilst I’ve been thinking about the work I wanted to make for this project, there have been disturbances at the threshold of my home. For a couple of months, a crow has been coming to knock the windows with its beak and ‘caw’ on the windowsills. Sometimes it comes with a companion who sits on the roof, sometimes it comes alone, but it always follows the same routine, four or five times a day, landing on the same two windowsills and performing specific routines. It’s the kind of encounter that is freighted with folklore and superstition. Whatever its intention, it feels portentous and significant.

During the timeframe of these avian encounters, I’ve also stepped into the last year of my fifth decade. I’m adjusting to a new sense of identity. What does it mean to be an old(er) woman in our culture? The hag, the wise woman, the grandmother, the elder…the overlooked, the unheard, the vulnerable, the marginalised. Where do I fit and who are my allies?

When the room is quiet, the crow and the crone are tapping at my windows in the moonlight.

“The word ‘haunt’ and all the derivations thereof may be one of the closest English words to the German ‘unheimlich’, whose polysemic connotations and etymological echoes Freud so assiduously, and so famously, unravelled in his essay on ‘The Uncanny’. Just as ‘German usage allows the familiar (das Heimliche, the’ homely’) to switch to its opposite, the uncanny (das Unheimliche, the ‘unhomely’)’ (Freud), so ‘haunt’ signifies both the dwelling-place, the domestic scene and that which invades or disturbs it. The OED lists one of the earliest meanings of the word ‘haunt’ as ‘to provide with a home, house.” Mark Fisher, k-punk.abstractdynamics.org

KCD July 2021

Coming Up For Air

Kate Bell | Zena Blackwell | Rhiannon Davies | Kathryn Campbell Dodd | Helen Finney | Sophie Harding | Daleet Leon | Catrin Llwyd | Rhodri Rees | Katie Trick | Dylan Williams | Richard Williams | Ellie Young

10 -24 October 2020

We pause for a break, between two worlds. From the pre-COVID one of 6 months ago, and now about to dive into an uncertain socially restricted, off-kilter reality. All the exhibitions in Beep 2020 inhabit this in-between environment as we draw breath and see what happens next.

All 13 artists in this exhibition are based in Wales.

Beep started life in 2012 and aims to bring to Wales the best contemporary painting from across the globe, highlighting excellence in content, aesthetic, technique, and materials used. Beep also provides and nurtures an informative network for painters and people interested in contemporary painting by raising awareness of artists’ works and artist opportunities from across the UK and beyond.

For further information on the 2020 Beep biennial venues and activities go to www.beeppainting.com instagram: @beeppainting | Facebook: Beep Painting Biennial

Cragen Beca

Rwy’n falch iawn fy mod wedi cael ariannir gan Y Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru ar gyfer Cragen Beca, prosiect mewn cydweithrediad ag Oriel Myrddin, Amgueddfa Sir Gaerfyrddin a Chlybiau Ffermwyr Ifanc Sir Gaerfyrddin.

“Cragen dro yw Cragen Beca, a gedwir yng nghasgliadau Amgueddfa Sir Gaerfyrddin. Cafodd ei chwythu yn ystod Terfysgoedd Beca gan Rebecca i alw ei Phlant i’r gad yn ôl pob sôn yng nghanol y 19eg ganrif.

 Mae’n wrthrych eiconig i bobl y rhanbarth a bydd yr artist Kathryn Campbell Dodd yn dathlu ei arwyddocâd symbolaidd gan greu gwisgoedd a gomisiynwyd yn arbennig ar gyfer arddangosfa yn Oriel Myrddin a pharêd yn y dref.”

I am delighted to have received funding from The Arts Council of Wales for Cragen Beca, a project in collaboration with Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Carmarthenshire Museum and the Young Farmers Clubs of Carmarthenshire.

“Cragen Beca is a conch shell held in the collections of Carmarthenshire Museum.  it was allegedly blown by Rebecca to call her Children to break the toll gates during the Rebecca Riots in Carmarthenshire in the mid-19th century.

An iconic object for the people of the region, artist Kathryn Campbell Dodd will celebrate its symbolic significance creating especially commissioned costumes for a town parade and exhibition at Oriel Myrddin Gallery.”



Y Bwrdd // The Table at Oriel Myrddin Gallery

Oriel Myrddin Gallery

19 October – 31 December 2019

This series of paintings have been made especially for The Back Wall feature at Oriel Myrddin Gallery to complement Y Bwrdd // The Table, the exhibition in the main gallery space which draws influence from 17th Century Golden Age Dutch still life painting in a contemporary homage to the genre.

“Painted on scraps of supermarket produce boxes in flat emulsion paints, these snippets of still life imagery glory in the colour and texture of the subject matter whilst also echoing the inherent warnings of over consumption contained in the symbolic language of 17th Century still life painting. Perhaps no longer so concerned with the spiritual dangers of over consumption, our contemporary dilemma is far more urgently environmental. The challenge greets us at every turn as we belatedly consider how we can moderate our everyday habits, learn to enjoy less, embrace quality over quantity and de-glorify the beguiling pleasures of consumer capitalism.”

Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Church Lane, Carmarthen SA31 1LH

Open: Mon – Sat  10 – 5

Midsummer Clootie (for Clare): Write me one beautiful sentence…


Oriel Blodau Bach

21 June  – 17 August 2019

In Scots a ‘clootie’ is a strip of cloth or rag and a ‘clootie well’ is a holy well or spring, usually with a tree growing beside it, where strips of cloth, rag or pieces of clothing are tied in the branches of the tree in a votive gesture of healing.

“Midsummer Clootie (for Clare): Write me one beautiful sentence… was made in remembrance of my friend and sometime colleague, artist Clare Thornton, who died in April 2019.”

Made in Roath 2018

Every ornament should have its perfume

Made in Roath 2018 – 32 Kelvin Road CF23 5ET


20 and 21 October 2018 – Saturday 11am – 5pm and Sunday 21st 12 – 5pm



The Every ornament should have its perfume series of works reflects on the legacy of The Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20th Century. The title is taken from Owen Jones’, The Grammar of Ornament. Making reference to the fabric and wallpaper designs of William Morris and lighting designs of W.A.S. Benson, the works are constructed from low grade printed textiles, cardboard and decorators’ paints.

The use of these everyday materials reflects upon the aspirations and argueably the ultimate failure of the Arts and Crafts movement’s socialist idealism and the belief that political and social change can be wrought through the hand-made production of craft, art and design.  With the current resurgance in popularity of the hand-made and the crafted, perhaps as a similar counter-balance to technology and the mass produced, the same questions and challenges arise.

Installed in an Arts and Crafts period home in Kelvin Road, Roath, Cardiff as part of the Made in Roath 2018 festival, the work sits within a kitchen dresser of the period alongside everyday objects selected by the owners of the house.

The work cherishes the desire for change through art and making whilst embracing the inadequacy of that position. It is a small revolutionary act which celebrates the intense labour involved in making by hand and the futility of that gesture in the face of 21st Century consumer capitalism.